As of this year, there are around 19 million veterans in the U.S. This accounts for approximately 10 percent of the adult population, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs. For many of them, the readjustment from the military to civilian life can be tough. From finding their place in the workforce to rebuilding their financial profile and grappling with the declining affordability of homes in the U.S., veterans can face some unique challenges as they try to return to civilian life. In fact, a recent study by Pew Research Center showed that 27 percent of veterans had a difficult time readjusting to civilian life. Based on their findings, and that of additional research over the years, here are 3 of the most common challenges veterans are facing in life after the military.
Finding Adequate Employment
In recent data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, veterans were shown to struggle with finding stable employment after leaving the military. The disparity in earnings was particularly visible for younger veterans and those with a lower ranking in the military. For instance, former infantry and combat veterans tended to have lower earnings and employment rates. Also, veterans that are working feel their skills are not being utilized fully. The underemployment of veterans is not a new topic. In 2020, the New York Times published a revealing piece on the difficulties veterans face when translating their skills to the private job sector.
For many veterans, while they gain ample training and practical experience in specialist skills including medical skills, they often lack board and state certified licenses. There has been some attention paid to this hurdle recently, with Miltary.com introducing a Military Skills Translator for veterans seeking private sector employment.
Paying Their Bills And Keeping On Top Of Their Finances
One of the most common issues veterans grappled with during their first months of transitioning is getting up to date with their finances. Adjusting to the responsibilities of paying their bills on time, managing their personal finances by themselves, and having to provide necessities like food and shelter can be overwhelming for a veteran. For instance, many veterans don’t know how to build their credit score post-military. Similarly, while many are aware of programs aimed at helping them become homeowners like the VA HomeLoan Program, not a lot of veterans are familiar with the requirements like the credit score needed for a VA home loan. This is a key driver behind veterans remaining pessimistic about their financial future and often being ill-prepared for life after the military financially.
The Lack Of Structure In Civilian Life
Recent studies also showed that younger veterans were more likely to struggle post-military. In a study, “The American Veteran Experience and the Post-9/11 Generation“, 45 percent of veterans said they believed the military did not prepare them for their transition to civilian life. It also showed that younger veterans were more likely to struggle with their readjustment- particularly with the lack of structure in their daily life.
For those leaving it military, the structure of their day can become a soothing routine. Therefore, upon leaving the military, it is up to the veteran to create that atmosphere of structure so that they can thrive in their new environment. This can be done by taking small steps like creating a daily routine for yourself. Life as a civilian can also come at a different pace, which can be disorienting for a veteran. For instance, the workforce there is normally heightened competition – quite the opposite of the military.
These are just a handful of the challenges veterans are facing in their initial return to civilian life. It should be noted that life after the military can take some time to readjust to sometimes even years. The earlier the nation recognizes these long-running hurdles its veteran community faces, the earlier the right support can be implemented to help them.